Lance Armstrong’s confession to Oprah Winfrey concerning his repeated doping to win in the sport of cycling resembled that of a dump truck. The person controlling the bed of the truck can control how much dumping occurs by controlling the tilt of the bed during the dumping process. The dumping process does not have to be a complete dump. In fact, a tilt of the truck’s bed may allow only a small amount of spillage. Lance Armstrong let his audience know that he controlled his spillage during his interview with Oprah, but who can blame him? Controlling, even by Armstrong’s own admission, may be what he does best. Still, some audience members seem discontent with what they view as a partial dump, personally delivered by disgraced Armstrong.
Armstrong seemed forthcoming with much of the information he provided about his own actions. Armstrong admitted to doping, to bullying, and to suing innocent people. He even admitted to doing all he could to continue the fairytale, the lie. However, Armstrong hedged on more than one answer when Oprah asked about others involved, eventually letting his audience know that he didn’t want to speak out on others. Armstrong periodically engaged with a this-is-true and this-is-not-true series of answers during the interview. Was Armstrong, for once, trying to act in an honorable manner? Only Armstrong knows the answer to that question. Regardless of the answer, does Armstrong really need to give a blow-by-blow account, hurting even more people in the process?
Lance Armstrong admitted his lack of control over the doping charges. Surely, Armstrong’s decision to come clean (on any level) comes largely due to that lack of control. Armstrong’s answers suggested (more than once) that he would have continued duping the public had he been able to do so. Armstrong’s answers also seemed to say I wish it were different, but here we are, so here it is. He even acknowledged that he’s not the most believable person now, and maybe ever, but he gave the public his version of the truth, at least partially, so what more can he give? Armstrong no longer holds his titles, his place on the team, or his right to compete in the same arena he’s always competed in. He now suffers humiliation, disrespect, embarrassment, endless criticism, and possibly self loathing.
Armstrong must also deal with the financial part of his unfortunate situation. He may have to return prize money. He likely no longer holds endorsement deals. Yes, Armstrong could get a book deal, which would provide Armstrong with an engaged audience once again, but how large would that audience be since he’s lost credibility with the public? Certainly, Armstrong ought not to be able to financially gain from his wrongdoings, but do we need to tear Armstrong completely down, or can the public allow Armstrong enough dignity as a human being to help Armstrong step back and learn to productively live with himself? A partial dump begins the process, but Armstrong may need to engage in several partial dumps in a private manner before his own truck bed is empty.
*Needing time and tolerance to face the dark part of the self makes Armstrong human, not deceptive.
The Bottom Line: Armstrong gave enough in the interview to hold himself accountable and doesn’t seem to ask anyone to serve as his clean-up crew. He is working towards owning his deeds, so can we allow Armstrong the time (and the tolerance) to grow into a better human being? He began the process by stepping forward.